Ted Diadiun needs a job.
Diadiun is currently identified the “Reader Representative” of the Plain Dealer. The implication is that he champions reader interests when it comes to dealing with the monopoly newspaper in town. But, it seems he spends most of his time plaintively bleating and tortuously weaving explanations of why the paper clearly has a bias and is oblivious to many issues of import. All without explaining that within the constraints of a crushing politically correct style guide and a unionized newsroom, the paper is not really interested in what readers want.
As Cleveland’s population declines, so does the circulation of the paper. Yet the morning newspaper continues to operate as if it were the 1980s after the demise of the Cleveland Press. Its attempt to keep pace with the Internet boom is a distilled, weak-tea digital adjunct called Cleveland.com.
Today the veracity of all newspapers is continually called into question. The Plain Dealer, in its own tone-deaf way, still publishes articles from the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, the New York Times – all hearty liberal outlets with declining readership issues of their own.
Even veteran newsmen wonder about the hothouses of liberalism that regular print outlets have become. The New York Times’ Michael Malone recently wrote “I’ve begun – for the first time in my adult life – to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living.”
The veteran former ombudsman of the Washington Post, Deborah Howell, even admitted fault. On issues of serious analysis and perceived bias relative to President Obama, she said, her own surveys showed her critics “right on both counts.”
During the last presidential election a Pew Research Study found that by a margin of 70 percent to 9 percent the population believed that most journalism was slanted in Obama’s favor. Seventy percent. That should be an embarrassment to every paper in the country. The integrity of journalists ranks around the level of a toxic waste dump, and yet poor Ted Diadiun keeps defending away.
I know he will point to the occasional op-ed by Kevin O’Brien (how does he keep his sanity there, anyway?) and Charles Krauthammer as evidence of impartiality. But come on. “Balancing” those views are the unwaveringly liberal perspectives of crusty old Joe Frolik through the vitriolic distortions and demagoguery of Connie Schulz to the Holly Golightly liberalism of Regina Brett. As are those of most of the guest columnists (really, who reads the snarky childishness of Maureen Dowd, anyway?).
The editorial page posts are more restrained but clearly left-leaning. Consider the recent sotto voce editorial on the abortion laws being proposed in Columbus which basically supports abortion by inferring we shouldn’t be wasting our time on worrying about unborn babies.
We so-called average readers know a number of things by definition about the Plain Dealer. It will not publish a story implying gun rights are beneficial. It will not publish a story that infers that the teachers unions are part of the problem with the abysmal performance of the city’s schools. We will read heartfelt stories on the agony of soldiers killed or damaged (mentally or physically) in action, but we won’t see anything positive about the work they do, or the benefit of their sacrifice. We certainly won’t see articles that clarify the global warming question with contrary data or analysis.
For decades the Plain Dealer was a bystander in one of the most massive perpetuations of fraud throughout Cuyahoga County and said nothing – going so far as to endorse candidates who now stand accused of serious crimes.
And, where is any information about the Pigford fraud? The recent Civil Rights Division finding of clear bias in the Justice Department concerning the New Black Panther Party case in Philadelphia? The clear financial misstatements and deviousness involved in the justifications for Obamacare? The fact that we are already seeing fundamental changes in the health care system which will increase costs, reduce choice, and force us into reduced innovation in health care, while over 900 waivers have already been given? The fact that a judge has held the federal government in contempt for a de-facto ban on gulf drilling, while oil prices continue to rise? Where is the reporting, let alone the analysis?
And the list goes on.
Ted Diadiun will proclaim that the paper really doesn’t cover national issues. Yet it still publishes articles from other venues (including the McLatchy chain owners who refuse to answer questions about the obvious lies perpetuated by the Congressional Black Caucus last March).
There will always be a need for newspapers, or something like them. We need an organization that filters and edits the news and presents it with a regional focus. It may not always involve newsprint, but someone will do it.
The Internet is intruding on the ink-by-the-barrel guys, and the Plain Dealer better start waking up and changing its ways. The Daily Caller is showing a glimpse of the future in online news gathering and dissemination.
The Plain Dealer needs to be open to differing voices and opinions and do it in a different way. There is lots of local talent and perspective that can make the paper sparkle – and perhaps flame. That would be better than the insidious denial of alternate viewpoints and the clear lack of balanced perspective.
Loren Ghiglione, who certainly knows journalism, said “Ignorance, inertia and indifference are alive and well in America’s newspapers.”
One would hope that Ted understands that and truly starts to work to change the Plain Dealer, or change his job title.
Doug Magill is a former radio host and corporate Vice President of IT, and is currently a consultant, freelance writer, and voice-over talent.